Book Review: Consciousness and the Brain

Every ten years the scientific study of consciousness passes a milestone. A decade ago the milestone was the publication of Chrisof Koch’s book “Quest for Consciousness” (2004). “Quest” established the groundwork for a scientific approach to the study of consciousness and described progress using techniques of neuroscience and experimental psychology1. Stenislas Dehaene’s book “Consciousness and the Brain: Deciphering how the Brain Codes our Thoughts” presents a mass of new data and along with new theory. I believe it is a major consolidation; a milestone marking the trail forward for the next decade. Continue reading

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NEURO.tv Episode 8 – The Function and Evolution of the Visual System.

How does the visual system process information from the outside world and what are the rules that constrain the evolution of sensory systems? We discuss these questions with Dale Purves, Geller Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University. Continue reading

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NEURO.tv Episode 6 – The Evolution of the Primate Cortex.

NEURO.tv starts the season with an amazing discussion with Katherine L. Bryant about the visual cortex in primates and the anatomical differences found between the brains of different primates. Continue reading

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NEURO.tv Episode 5 – Grid cells and navigation

In this episode, we talk about grid cells and place cells. These fascinating neurons process information that relate to where an animal is located in space. They are believed to play important roles in navigating the environment. Our guests are May-Britt and Edvard Moser from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Continue reading

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The best time for your coffee

Ever wonder what the best time is to drink your coffee? You probably know it is not a good idea to drink part of your daily dose of caffeine in the afternoon. Especially for those who have problems sleeping. But, do you ever drink your coffee and feel like it just didn’t work? I know I have that feeling sometimes. The explanation for this has to with a concept that I think is extremely interesting but rarely discussed: chronopharmacology.

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The Detroit River

David H. Hubel’s great gift to neuroscience.

David H. Hubel, whose work unveiled fascinating brain processes that underlie our sense of vision, died last month at the age of 87.

Hubel’s parents were Americans, living in Detroit, Michigan. His father had a job in Windsor, Ontario. Tired of commuting across the Detroit River, he moved to Canada, where David Hubel was born. During his childhood David spent considerable effort learning to play the piano, and later the flute. In 1929, the family moved to Montreal where David Hubel grew up. Continue reading

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Submitted for your Consideration: The Neuroscience of Moby Dick

Carl Zimmer has written a brief and engaging essay on The Science of Moby Dick. Zimmer considers Melville a 19th century naturalist. It’s fascinating to read literature from this perspective. In the 19th century there was not a great divide between science and literature; each enriched the other.

Taking cues from Carl, let’s examine the Neuroscience from the great whaling novel, written in 1851, about 50 years age before the dawn of modern Neuroscience. From simple observations of sperm whale anatomy Melville ponders the visual and mental process in men and whales.  A long quote from chapter 74, the Sperm Whale’s Head, reveals Melville’s insights and mode of thinking: Continue reading

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